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the names of John von Müller, Niebuhr, Leo, Ranke, stand conspicuous; and translations of several of these works, e. g. Ranke's History of the Popes, and of the German Reformation, show, that the attention of England and America has been directed to these researches.
The later German philosophy has comparatively found least acceptance with the Anglo-American mind, although, in this very sphere, the German genius has accomplished gigantic labors since the close of the last century. Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, authors severally of new systems, connected however inseparably, as links of one chain, and whose successive systems grew with dialectic necessity each out of the preceding, need not fear comparison with the greatest philosophers of Greece. Various combined circumstances explain the disfavor with which German philosophy is looked upon among us at the present time. The English mind is rather averse to abstruse, metaphysical speculations. The philosophy of Locke also, which was already scientifically overcome in Kant's Critic of Pure Reason, has obtained such general sway in England and America, that it is hard to renounce its authority. Lastly, pernicious consequences for theology are feared from the above mentioned philosophy. To support this, appeal might be made to the so-called left side of the Hegelian school, with Strauss at its head, who has reduced the gospel history to a wreath of myths, woven unconsciously by the Christian church in a state of poetic fervor, whilst filled with Messianic ideas. It should not be forgotten, however, that every philosophical system can be applied to theology in a twofold manner, can be used as an apology for Christianity, or misused as a weapon against it. The Platonic philosophy was, for many of the greatest church fathers, as Justin Martyr, Clemens of Alexandria, Origen, and even Augustine, a bridge to lead them to faith in Christ; whilst the later Platonists, as Plotinus, Porphyry, and Jamblichus, endeavored with its aid to restore heathenism, or, directly or indirectly, to assault Christianity. The eulogists of Locke's philosophy, who condemn German speculation as being infidel, should remember that Hume obtained his scepticism, Gibbon his bitter enmity against Christianity, and Tindal, Collins, and Bolingbroke their deism, from this same fountain. Such also is the case with Hegel. Strauss and Bruno Bauer are not his only disciples. Men like Marheinecke, Daub, Billroth, Erdmann, and still more Göschel, have obtained from his system the strongest scientific weapons against Rationalism, and endeavored with Hegelian dialectics to establish on
Influence of Germany on England and America.
new grounds, the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Divinity of Christ, etc. But distinguished American theologians refer us, in support of their opposition, to the later German speculations, to theologians of considerable merit in Germany, who condemn it in the same unmerciful terms. Here, however, there is generally a misunderstanding at bottom, since in speaking of German philosophy reference is falsely had to a particular system. But as we can speak in general of an English philosophy, without having reference to the system of Bacon or Locke; just as well, and with far greater right, can we speak of a German philosophy, i. e. a general philosophical mode of thinking, which serves as a common basis to all the better schools, notwithstanding all the differences among them. When therefore, the celebrated church historian, Neander, shows a decided opposition to the system of Hegel, we must not conclude thence that he is an enemy to German philosophy in general; much less, that he would be willing to exchange it with the system of Locke; his intimate relations with Schelling, concerning whose positive system he entertains the most sanguine hopes, prove the contrary.
Notwithstanding all these obstructions, we see that German speculation has made its way, in more recent times, into England and America. Men such as Coleridge, Carlyle, Marsh, have evidently received their mental stamp under its influence, and their ideas are spreading further every day in the large circle of their readers. Dr. Rauch's Psychology, although it has not, thus far, attracted the attention which it deserves, will yet come into favor; and it will be found that it is the best work on the subject in the English language, and an ornament to American literature. We have no desire at all that any German system of philosophy should obtain a general ascendancy among us. This is, besides, altogether impossible. Our view, on the contrary, is this, that our American philosophy should be modified and carried forward to a more advanced position, by the direct or indirect influence of the better philosophical literature of Germany. Why should not "the science of sciences" be capable of development just as well as other departments of learning? Whilst, during the last fifty years, the natural sciences have advanced with giant strides, our philosophy has continued essentially upon the position of the seventeenth century. Far otherwise is it in Germany, where the advances of other sciences, and especially of theology, go hand in hand with the advances of philosophy. For some parts of theology, especially of dogmatics and morals, philosophy is indis
pensable. But from the position of Locke we cannot treat doctrines, e. g. those of the Trinity, incarnation, freedom of will, immortality, in a way that will satisfy the demands of the present times. This is felt to be the case by many of our most gifted young men, who in other respects have no sympathy with German literature.
In theology, lastly, in all its branches, especially in Exegesis, Church History, Dogmatics, Symbolics, and Ethics, Germany has shown an extraordinary productiveness, since the late great revival of religion in that country. It would lead us much too far to characterize here the different schools, and to mention their most important representatives. This would be an interesting subject for a separate and thorough Article for the "Bibliotheca Sacra," which we very willingly leave to a more experienced pen. We only wish here to call attention to one point, which is of the greatest practical importance, although very little or not at all considered. The extensive exegetical and historical learning of the German theologians is coming to be admitted on all sides, and an acquaintance with their works in this respect, is looked upon as very useful and important. The names of Neander, Olshausen, Hengstenberg, Tholuck, Nitzsch, Twesten, Jul. Müller, Dorner, Ullmann, Lücke, Harless, Bleek, and others, have become favorites amongst us. Many of our most respectable theologians, however, who set a high value upon German learning, and know how to make good use of it in their own works, still show a strong opposition to the dogmatical and philosophical ideas of German theology. At one time they fear rationalism, then transcendentalism or mysticism, or something, at any rate, which is contrary to their own system and dangerous to the tendency of their denomination. This is very natural, and we blame no one for it. There is, we admit, in the writings of these men a certain freedom and unbiassed judgment, which cannot be easily understood. It requires a long acquaintance to surmount successfully these stumbling-blocks. The German spirit has passed through a terrible battle with scepticism, and has come out victorious. The best advice we can give here is, to cast oneself boldly into the whirlpool, and swim through it; not merely to sip at the cup of doubts, but to drain it to the dregs. He who makes but a superficial acquaintance with German theology and philosophy, runs great risk of doing injury to his simple, child-like faith; but he who contends with it manfully, and passes through the whole intricate and tedious process of investigating the deepest grounds of
The spirit of German Researches.
our most holy faith, will come out more firmly grounded in orthodoxy than before. We cannot expect that our own theology will long be spared such struggles. Have they not even already commenced, and that through the influence of the negative and sceptical part of German literature? Is not even the pantheism of the left side of the Hegelian school transplanted into the midst of us? Unitarianism and Universalism put on the armor of foreign learning and speculation; and if we do not greatly mistake the signs of the times, we will venture to predict that a terrible struggle in the sphere of science awaits us. But to fight this battle successfully, we need the most effectual weapons. We must assail the enemy in his own camp, and discomfit him with his own weapons. If we only evade his attacks, or meet him in our old worn out armor, he will justly mock us. After gunpowder had been invented, victory could be obtained no longer with bow and arrow. Every period has its own way of doing battle, and its own armor. This is true of theology also; although errors and the enemy remain the same in the lowest depths of the heart, they nevertheless change their colors, armor, and mode of attack. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that the watchmen of Zion should watch closely all their movements and stratagems, follow them up to their secret lurking places, and never rest, until the cause of truth has been justified on all sides, and all opposition to the church been converted into a blessing.
We would also remind those, who look with distrust upon German dogmatics, that a merely outward learning, one which is not quickened by a distinctive spirit, and pervaded by a living principle, can help us but very little; and that, just by means of his ideas, the German is called upon to do, and has already done the greatest service both to the church and the world. His learning is to a great extent only the fruit of these ideas, and interwoven with them in the most intimate manner. His great researches, for example, in the sphere of church and dogmatic history, are inseparably connected with the whole modern view of the church and her development. The spirit which breathes through the immortal work of Neander, is of far more account for theology, than even the most learned investigations. But good fruits always point us to a good tree. Luther and Melanchthon no doubt did important services to the Reformation by their learning; yet that great movement was by no means a product of the learning, but of the deep practical religious ideas, which filled the minds of
these men, and impelled them to new investigations and researches.
In the present evangelical theology of Germany there is reign. ing a genius, which refers us prophetically to a higher future of the church. Through the unwearied diligence of learned men, the entire field of the history of the kingdom of God in all countries and times, has been laid open. Narrow prejudices and party interests which formerly separated Protestants from Catholics, Lutherans from the Reformed, modern times from the middle ages, and excited them to a fanatical hatred against each other, have been made to vanish through the power of a liberal and unprejudiced science, a science whose sole object is truth. A cordial sympathy is felt for all forms of Christian life, and the foot-. steps of the Lord, who promised to be with his own always, unto the end of the world, are recognized with reverence even in the darkest ages. These grand views of the church of Christ and her development cannot possibly allow us to be satisfied with the present distracted condition of Protestantism, especially as it has worked itself out practically amongst us, but must point us far beyond this to a time, when one united and truly evangelical catholic church, enriched by the treasures of all past centuries, and adorned with the virtues of all true children of God of every creed or denomination, shall arise from the wreck of sectarianism, and go forth in transcendent beauty to meet her heavenly Bridegroom. In this very thing lies the great practical significance of the better German theology for the religious condition of our country. Even we are becoming every day more and more conscious of the truth, that our sectarianism is an abnormal condition of the church, that it stands in direct opposition to the sacerdotal prayer of our Lord, and the idea of the church, which includes essentially the character of unity and catholicity, and that it hinders the most important interests of piety. We openly confess that we have no confidence in the so-called Evangelical Alliance of the last year; we look upon it, however, as an important sign of our times insomuch as a large and respectable portion of Protestant Christianity has, by its mere appearance there, declared in fact that they are dissatisfied with sectarianism and are longing for the unity of the church. We have now arrived at a crisis which, although it is grounded in the development of Protestantism itself, refers us with the same historical necessity to a point beyond it; and this crisis must be surmounted in the very land where it has reached its culmination, namely, in America. One